How to survive the dreaded tube strikes this month with just your humble smartphone and a few handy apps.
From 9.30pm on Tuesday February 4, until some time Friday morning, the London Underground is gonna be right royally done up the Khyber, thanks to the latest set of strikes. If you depend on the tube every day, your commute will likely resemble a scene straight out of Apocalypse Now.
But as with most of life’s woes, your trusty mobile can help to steer you through the carnage and get you to your place of work with only superficial cuts and bruises. Here’s how.
1. Can you stick to the same route?
First step, figure out if you can actually make it into work using your usual route. Although there’s a tube strike, some lines will still be up and running, albeit in a clunky, beta-esque version. There’s a plethora of tube apps that can warn you about knackered lines, and the skint amongst us will be pleased to hear that many of them free.
Tube Map by mxData (iOS and Android, Free) notifies you of any line disruptions, helps you to get from A to B and even shows you live departures from a station, so you’ll get a rough idea of how long you’ll need to wait between trains.
You can also get up-to-date info by following the likes of @TflOfficial on Twitter.
2. Figure out alternative transport
If your tube line is completely down during the strikes, it’s time to extend your options to other methods of transport. TFL’s website has a decent mobile version, and the journey planner is usually competent at picking out the fastest way to reach your destination.
Otherwise, London Transport by Jeevan Takhar (iOS, £2.99) is a fully-featured journey planner that calculates your quickest route using buses, boats, DLR etc. And if all that fails, it’ll even help you book a taxi.
Android users can check out similar apps such as London Travel and London Transport Live, many of which pull info from TFL’s website.
If you’re not still fighting off the effects of last night’s lager-and-kebab combo, you might be tempted to cycle in. If so, we’d recommend the excellent London Cycle: Maps & Routes (iOS, free) or London Bike Master (Android, free or 99p for premium version) apps. You can quickly check for available Boris bikes, and work out a cycle-safe route to your office.
3. Fight off the crowds
Once you’re trapped in tubular hell, surrounded by a horde of screaming, crying, desperate punters, it’s every commuter for themselves. If this were America, we could bust out the Yellow Jacket iPhone case and tazer our way through the crowds. Sadly, this is Britain, and that kind of thing is frowned upon. And also slightly illegal. Oh well.
4. Beat the delay tedium
By now, you’re possibly cowering in a corner of a packed-out train carriage, spattered with blood and praying for the sweet release of the grave. Chances are good that your chosen method of transport isn’t actually going anywhere either. Don’t simply rock back and forth, clutching your head and muttering under your breath – kill time with one of these awesome games instead.
Device 6 (iOS, £2.49)
This surreal text adventure plays out like an interactive novel, with you following a trail of dialogue and solving the occasional freaky puzzle involving bears, magical mirrors or creepy dolls. It’s an intriguing and original experience and highly recommended.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (iOS and Android, £4.99)
It may be a fiver, but this is the full GTA: San Andreas that we know and love, now with bonus mission checkpointage. There’s about 40+ hours of gameplay stuffed away in here, so it should see you through at least a couple of days of London commuting.
Rayman: Jungle Run (iOS and Android, 69p)
If you’re after a quick reaction-based platformer, the colourful Rayman: Jungle Run (and follow-up Fiesta Run) is a highly addictive little time-waster. Simply tap the screen to leap and glide your way through the many levels, including some awesome boss encounters.
Best of luck, fellow commuters!